State v. Hayden

950 P.2d 1024, 90 Wash. App. 100 (1998)

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State v. Hayden

Washington Court of Appeals
950 P.2d 1024, 90 Wash. App. 100 (1998)

KL

Facts

Eric Hayden (defendant) was accused of the rape and murder of Dawn Fehring. Fehring was found naked near the foot of her bed with her top bedsheet and shirt wrapped around her head and neck. Bloody finger- and handprints were found on the fitted bedsheet. Police took the fitted bedsheet to Daniel Holshue to examine the prints. Holshue chemically treated the bedsheet to isolate the prints and find comparison points to match the prints to Hayden’s prints. Holshue found there was insufficient contrast between the bedsheet and the prints to identify the required eight points of comparison to make a positive match. Holshue then took the bedsheet to Erik Berg, an expert in enhanced digital imaging. Berg took digital photographs of the prints on the bedsheet and used computer software to view the prints without the background patterns of the sheet. Using the enhanced photographs, Holshue was able to find more than enough comparison points to identify the prints as Hayden’s. The trial court held a Frye hearing to determine whether the enhanced digital images were admissible. At the hearing, Berg explained the digital-enhancement process and testified that the process required no subjectivity. The state presented evidence that digital enhancement had been used by police departments to enhance fingerprints for several years. The trial court concluded that the digital-enhancement process was generally accepted within the relevant scientific community and, therefore, passed the Frye test. The jury found Hayden guilty of first-degree felony murder. Hayden appealed, arguing that the trial court erred by admitting the digitally enhanced photographic evidence.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Kennedy, C.J.)

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